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2003 Subaru outback - worth a $2800 repair?

We have a 2003 subaru outback with 125,000 miles in good/fair condition. The exhaust started to smell like rotten eggs so we took it in to a mechanic we trust. Now we have a laundry list of things that need to be replaced - new clutch (we knew the clutch was going), spark plugs & wires, valve cover gasket, CV boot, and some radiator hoses.

Since there is nothing seriously wrong with the car we’re hoping that making all of these repairs puts us in good shape for many years. It has a new timing belt but what other expensive repairs should we expect? The Kelly blue book value is only a little higher than the cost of these repairs so we’re worried we might be heading down a rabbit hole.

Most of that could be considered maintenance, and given good condition and if you like the car, all the more reason to do it. Perhaps that’s approaching the KBB value, but it’s still a bunch cheaper than a new car. My guess is you wouldn’t have to worry about anything else expensive for a while. You could probably at least do the plugs and wires yourself, those are pretty easy replacements.

$2800 to get this moving or $28,000 for a new one.


Definitely worth it as long as you have kept up with the recommended fluid and filter change intervals. At 12,500 miles per year, you can easily get another 4 to 8 years (50,000 to 100,000 miles) out of it.

Have you gotten any other opinions on what repairs are really due, and what the cost might be? I’m no expert, but this sounds high for what you listed unless you didn’t mention some other big ticket item. Check the “Mechanics Files” above for other repair shops. And like @alust2013 wrote above, the items you mentioned are “maintenance” items. How much have you spent per year on repairs and maintenance?

When thinking about this sort of question, I always consider the physical condition of the car, body, interior, and glass, which can be expensive to fix while having zero benefit to reliability. If the car is dented, interior ripped, or it generally looks hammered, then maybe it’s not worth big ticket repairs. If it’s pristine, then 125k is no big deal and you move to other questions: Does it burn oil? Do you drive it like you stole it? Do you check oil and coolant levels regularly and keep them in the proper range? Have you changed oil, coolant, transmission fluid on schedule? If it’s burning oil and/or the trans fluid and coolant has never been changed, you may have expensive problems looming. Has it ever overheated? Maybe you should be more specific with the meaning of “good/fair condition”… If in doubt, you might have your shop do a compression test before you decide. That may swing the needle one way or the other. If compression is good and you don’t run it low on oil, and you’ve changed trans fluid on schedule, then fix the items on your list. If not, and if compression is down, skip the repairs unless you can do them yourself to save labor costs, and drive it as long as it lasts, then move on …IMHO.